The search words you use in article databases like Academic Search Complete or PsychINFO will yield the best results if the words mirror terms used to describe the articles or are in the text of the articles.
Key Elements of Successful Searching:
· Synonyms: use more than one word to describe your topic: for example: drug abuse or substance abuse
· Truncation: use * to “truncate” words to find as many forms as possible for a word: for example: alcohol* will yield alcohol, alcoholic, alcoholism
· Logical operators AND and OR: for example: alcohol* AND counsel* will yield articles on both the topics of alcohol/alcoholism/alcoholics and counseling/counselors (narrows your search); heroin OR alcohol* will yield articles on either heroin or alcohol (broadens your search)
· Phrase searching: In Ebscohost databases, use N4 to find terms 4 words apart: for example, drug* N4 violen* will find articles with the words drug/drugs near violence/violent
Clarify Your Concepts by Using a Table:
If you are researching counseling for females who abuse drugs, here is one possible set of search terms:
Concept: Drug Abuse
drug N4 abuse
substance N4 abuse
Remember!: review your search results and use words from the “subjects,” titles or abstracts to make your search strategy more effective!
Here is a screen shot of how the search would appear in SocINDEX: